The USA has classified natural rubber as a strategic raw material that serves as a critical ingredient in military, aircraft and truck tyres. The country currently relies on rubber imports for its tyre production but wishes to reduce this dependency, and government and military are thus working with private partners to accelerate commercialisation of natural rubber from dandelions. Goodyear Tire & Rubber will play a key role in achieving this goal.
Shandong Linglong Tire recently unveiled a new range of bio-based rubber tyres. Developed in joint collaboration with Beijing University of Chemical Technology over the past three years, the tyres utilise a number of sustainable rubber ingredients.
Continental has been recognised for its bicycle tyres manufactured with dandelion rubber with a brace of design awards. The Urban Taraxagum has won the prestigious Red Dot Design award, and the E-Bike Design & Innovation Award in the Sustainability & Green category by Focus E-Bike magazine. The two awards recognised different aspects of the tyre. The Red Dot Award lauded the design of the tread of the tyre, based on the cell shape of the dandelion. Meanwhile Focus E-Bike commended the sustainability of rubber extraction from dandelions.
The newest winter tyre from Vredestein will be unveiled at The Tire Cologne later this month. Details about the Vredestein Wintrac Pro are being kept under wraps until its launch on 29 May (4:00pm), however Apollo Vredestein comments that the new addition is position in the ultra-high-performance segment.
As Linglong Tire notes, China imports more than 80 per cent of the natural rubber its manufacturers use. The company views rubber sourced from dandelions as a potential strategic raw material in the coming years, and in order to promote the industrialisation of dandelion rubber, it plans to invest RMB 30 million (£3.4 million) to set up a new company. The tentative name for this firm is Linglong Dandelion Science and Technology Development Company.
Continuing the theme of technological development, Linglong Tire – a top five Chinese tyre enterprise – exhibited a number of technological developments including its: a dandelion natural rubber-based tyre, a tyre featuring a graphene compound and a polyurethane tyre manufactured with 3D printing techniques.
Natural rubber derived from dandelion roots is making its debut in truck and bus tyres and components produced by Continental. The German manufacturer will unveil a number of products that contain this raw material at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show this month, including Conti EcoPlus HD3 tyres made during the summer. These items merely offer a taste of things to come, however, as Continental states that production of Taraxagum – the name given to its dandelion rubber – will commence sometime within the next five to ten years.
Linglong Tire reports that a team from the tyre maker was amongst the more than 40 experts that met last month to discuss the utilisation of dandelions as a source of rubber. The Council of Dandelion Rubber Industrial Technology Innovation Strategic Alliance was held in Harbin, China between 15 and 17 August, and was attended by representatives from Linglong, the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association, Linglong Tire and Beijing University of Chemical Technology, along with attendees from Russia and the US.
A new research facility for industrialising the cultivation and processing of rubber harvested from Russian dandelions will be set up in Germany as part of Continental’s plan to bring tyres containing this rubber to market under the ‘Taraxagum’ brand name. On 12 August, the company presented plans to establish such a facility in Anklam, near the Baltic Sea island of Usedom. Continental will operate the Taraxagum Lab Anklam in collaboration with the IME Fraunhofer Institute, Julius Kühn Institute, Quedlinburg, and plant breeding specialist firm Eskusa GmbH.
A number of tyre makers have recently shown interest in Taraxicum kok-saghya (TKS), or Russian dandelion, as an alternative source of natural rubber – one manufacturer is even looking to launch tyres containing this raw material within the next five to ten years. Now Sumitomo Rubber Industries has added its name to the list of tyre firms examining the potential of TKS as a replacement for rubber from the Hevea tree; the Japanese manufacturer has commenced joint research with emerging US-based biotech company Kultevat and is working to find practical applications for natural rubber derived from the yellow-flowered plant.
Continental will reach an important milestone in its research project for the industrialisation of dandelion rubber in tyre production when it tests its first WinterContact TS 850 P with a Taraxagum based tread at its Swedish testing facility. Continental unveiled its first test tyres made from the raw material (the botanical name for dandelion is taraxacum) in a limited series last autumn. The use of the material in its WinterContact TS 850 P takes Continental “an important step closer” to its long-term sustainability goals, reducing its dependence on traditional raw materials.
For a number of years, Continental’s Tire division has collaborated with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Münster, Germany and the University of Münster’s Institute for Plant Biology and Biotechnology (IBBP) to develop rubber from dandelions that is suitable for series tyre production. The scientists heading the ‘Rubin – Industrial Emergence of Natural Rubber from Dandelion’ project have now been awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for their research into Russian dandelion and the development of prototype passenger car tyres that used dandelion-derived rubber. The award was presented yesterday in Wiesbaden, Germany, to IME’s Professor Dr Dirk Prüfer, IBBP’s Dr Christian Schulze Gronover and Continental’s Dr Carla Recker.
Continental, Apollo Vredestein and Bridgestone have all expressed interest in using dandelion-sourced rubber as a substitute for Hevea brasiliensis rubber in tyre production. Now Mitas has indicated its intention to evaluate the suitability of dandelion rubber for use in the manufacture of agricultural tyres. The company will use rubber extracted from Taraxacum koksaghyz (Kazakh dandelion) and aims to produce the first prototype tyre some time in 2015. This plan complements Mitas’ involvement in the Drive4EU project, which is researching the possibilities of using rubber from the Kazakh dandelion.
Continental has produced a limited number of Russian dandelion rubber-based tyres for product development and testing purposes. The first products featuring the new natural rubber alternative will be winter tyres. Speaking at a press conference in London on Friday 5 December, David O’Donnell, senior vice president research and development for Continental’s tyre division, shared a number details relating to both the natural rubber replacement material and the tyre production strategy related to it.
More than three years ago, Continental stated that rubber sourced from the Russian dandelion was of “great interest” to the company as a potential substitute for natural rubber in its tyres. It commenced a joint research project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology and reported a breakthrough late last year. Now, at Continental’s press conference at the start of the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Germany, Tire division head Nikolai Setzer has introduced the brand under which the company will market its dandelion rubber products.